Retightenting a Loose Cover

A question that we are often asked in the fall is “Do I put the cover on now or in the spring?”

As with most everything in life, there are two ways of looking at things and both sides have pros and cons. The answer is always the same though, “Put the cover on now since, in our opinion, the pros significantly outweigh the cons”

The pros of putting the cover on a new building in the fall include less frost penetration and a chance for ground moisture to start evaporating sooner than later. Less frost penetration means you will require much fewer heat units to get the structure operational in the spring (significant savings). Ground moisture is a challenge every new structure owner faces and allowing that extra time will significantly enhance the growing environment (much healthier).

The main con of putting the cover on in the fall is that with colder temperatures during installation, you will most likely be dealing with an excessively loose cover in the spring. This will be a task that needs to be dealt with to prevent premature cover wear. This will NOT be an ongoing issue. Once you deal with the loose cover, it will be good to go and add life to the cover.

Since cover tightening should not be undertaken until the temperature is consistently warm and warm enough It should therefore not be done until May and until the minimum temperature is over 20C. This requirement also means that you should use a temporary fix to carry you over until you can do a permanent fix.

Do not use rope (especially nylon) over a loose cover to temporarily tighten a cover unless you are facing an emergency. The abrasion factor will create new problems while you are dealing with the other problem. Seat belt material or ratchet straps make ideal fasteners for a loose cover.

If you do not have access to this and you know you will be dealing with a loose cover, you can call our office for some tarp scraps. These can be cut into 2” or 3” strips and then put over the cover at 12’ – 15’ intervals. It is important that the straps are lying flat on the cover before tightening.

When you have a warm calm day to tighten the cover, the job can be done in two stages. Since you must pull lengthwise, you can do one end on one day and the other end the next day. If you simply loosen one side and pull tight, you will have uneven tightening which still will have premature wear.

Once the two sides and one end are loose, pull toward the end and start refastening from the peak and work down. You are always working from the middle to the corner. If any wrinkles develop as you do this, always pull 90 degrees to the wrinkle. If the wind is still calm when you are finished with one end, you can then do the other end. It is important to remember that once you have started loosening the cover, you are committed to finishing the job. Having loose cover overnight is an invitation for trouble.

If anything in this article is not clear, please do not hesitate to contact us for clarification before you start.

Retightening a Loose Cover

Previously we outlined how to do a temporary fix for loose cover. This should not be left for an extended period. Re-tightening a cover does not have to be done in one day.

  • The job MUST split into two parts lengthwise.
  • The cover must be pulled lengthwise BEFORE it is pulled from side to side.
  • Make sure you do the tightening process on a calm, warm day.
  • You should do the end which looks the worst first.
  • This job will require taking ALL of the cover fasteners out.

Taking a short cut will leave you with more wrinkles.
Areas with wrinkles will flutter more and cause stress points.
This will also cause the cover to deteriorate quicker.

When you are tightening the cover, you should always pull 90 degrees to the wrinkle.

This means that after you have secured at the peak,
most often you will be pulling diagonally to the corner.

Once you have done one end/half and the wind is still down, you can start loosing the fasteners on the other end and repeat the process until complete.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

You can also see additional information in our installation guide:
Tarp Covering Instructions
Plastic Covering Instructions
Wirelock & Side Wall Cover Fasteners
covering options

Temporary Fix for a Loose Cover

There are a number of instances where a cover will need to be installed in less than ideal conditions. This can be either be on a windy day or in the cold (-10C or worse) and the job simply can not wait.

This will almost invariably lead to a situation where the cover will need to be re-tightened on a warmer and/or calmer day. Doing this temporary fix will get you an extra month of time that you can wait until it warms up and you can do a better job retightening the loose cover.

The lifespan of a cover can very quickly be reduced if it is repeatedly flapping in the hard wind. A very effective, temporary fix to give you more time to do the job right, is to put ropes or straps over the building (as in the photos below)

A 1” or 2” wide seat belt type material is ideal but likely you will need to settle for a soft, marine grade rope instead. Using nylon rope is almost worse then using nothing because of the abrasion factor.

The idea is to put a strap or rope between pairs of hoops every 12’ to 16’ and pull as tight as you can. Use nails or eye bolts on your base as the spot for securing the ropes or straps.

If your cover is especially loose, it is best to install each of the ropes or straps snugly first. Then go back and tighten them as tight as you can. This will prevent you from pulling too much in one spot.

Please don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions about this technique. We would be happy to help clarify anything you need, to keep your building secure.

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